A captain of the world
BRENT Livermore might become the Shane Warne of the hockey world when he tapes the captain's band around his arm in the World Series of Hockey in India later this year.
The World Series competition is hockey's answer to the Indian Premier League, a hugely successful and lucrative cricket competition which has attracted many of the world's best players, including Warne.
Three of the 40 international players contracted by organisers of the World Series are Grafton locals.
Peter Kelly and Robert Green will also head to India in December for the five-week competition.
Livermore has been drafted as one of the captains of the eight teams set to contest the opening season of the tournament, and will be assigned to a franchise in the coming months.
“All the players are picked in a draft situation, with about 130 of the 176 players coming from the local Indian leagues,” Livermore said.
“The remainder will be international players from all over the world, so it's a great achievement that we have three Grafton players amongst them.”
In December the Australian team members will be enjoying a rare break in their schedules before the 2012 London Olympics, leaving the door open for the second-tier Australian Hockey League players to take part in the World Series.
“Many of the Kookaburras were invited also but have passed up the opportunity, but blokes like PK and Greeny have jumped at the chance,” Livermore said.
With a $2.19 million first prize and $1.09 million in bonuses for the players up for grabs, as well as the lucrative television rights deals expected, opting not to take part might be a decision the top players live to regret in December.
“The money is certainly huge for hockey, especially for a five-week tournament,” Livermore said.
“With the broadcast rights being sold to more than 30 countries it has the potential to be a rival to the IPL as it develops.”
Hockey is a hugely popular sport in India, with competition to buy the eight franchises sure to be fierce, especially given that all 61 games of the tournament will be broadcast live around the world.
Livermore is also excited to be involved in the “Twenty20” version of hockey, with competition organisers set to tweak the rules.
“They have already signalled they will play the games in four quarters and time-outs will be allowed to cater for extra advertising breaks. There is also a board of past Olympians preparing to suggest some other rule changes to try in the tournament.”